191. Thriving in the Startup World: Insights from a Fintech Leader

job interview new world of work women's career Jun 19, 2023
Thriving in the Startup World: Insights from a Fintech Leader

My guest for this episode works for a startup that was Awarded Fintech Organisation of the Year 2022 in Australia. Emily Zhang is the Chief People Officer of Monoova, a leading B2B payments solutions provider in the growing and exciting world of fintech startups. The reason why I'm interested in bringing up startups as a topic of conversation in The Job Hunting Podcast is driven by demand. For example, the day before I interviewed Emily, I had a full day of coaching sessions with clients either starting a new job at a startup or keen to include startups in the mix of consideration as they navigate their way out of jobs they're unhappy with. Most of my clients are mid to senior-level, so they often come from more structured organizations. So the high-growth, nimble, and high-energy world of startups is both alluring and a bit scary.

When preparing for my chat with Emily, I was looking for her guidance as to how you can decide if a startup is for you and how to navigate the different culture you are, no doubt, going to find if you do what she did, which is to leave a large global, established corporation and take a risk by joining a startup and helping it grow. What I got was way more than I bargained for. Emily has an interesting personal story to tell that I hope will resonate with many of you. This is an episode that I know many of my clients will enjoy listening to.

Startup job vs. corporate job: Which one is right for you?

By listening to this episode, you will gain insight into the startup and fintech world, including insight into industry values, company structures, and cultures. We will also discuss the current job market trends and challenges in both fintech and startups, including the skills and qualities in high demand among employers. Another challenging obstacle for professionals willing to access startups and fintech is that they may have very different hiring processes compared to more traditional organizations. We address this as well during our chat.  

Here are my favorite highlights from this episode: 

  • Emily Zhang shares her unconventional career path, transitioning from a global consulting firm and a prominent bank to taking a risk and joining a fintech startup.  
  • We reflect on Emily's personal story and how it resonates with professionals considering transitioning to the startup world.  
  • Emily sheds light on startup culture, such as the high-growth, nimble, and high-energy environment of startups, and discusses the challenges and strengths of working in this dynamic sector. 
  • We also discuss fintech talent acquisition so that you can gain a deeper understanding of the skills and qualities in high demand among fintech employers and explore the evolving job market trends. 
  • We reflect on navigating a sometimes unstructured recruitment process: Discover what professionals should expect when pursuing opportunities in startups and fintech companies and learn how to better prepare for the hiring process. 
  • We also talk about the importance of building a startup network: Find out where professionals can go to build a strong network within the startup community. 
  • Emily was very generous at sharing how she adapted to startup life so that you can better understand the unique aspects of fintech and startup environments and gain valuable advice on making a successful transition. 

There are many takeaways from the conversation and some unexpected and candid feedback from Emily when she reflects on some of her career choices that were very unconventional but worth it! Join us as we delve into the world of startup and fintech talent acquisition, company culture, and strategies for standing out in the hiring process. 

About our guest:

Emily Zhang is the Chief People Officer at Sydney-based B2B payments fintech, Monoova. Emily is a highly experienced People and Change specialist with a background in HR and Talent Acquisition. Before joining Monoova, she was a Senior Change Manager at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (or CommBank or CBA), Australia's biggest bank, and with businesses across Oceania, Asia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Before that, she was a Managing Consultant with the global Big 4 consultancy firm KPMG.  

She has had extensive stakeholder management and advisory experience in behavioral change management, organizational design, leadership and capability, learning and design, and HR due diligence (deals) in large scaled initiatives across the public and private sectors. With a Master of Science in Organizational Psychology, Emily is passionate about empowering the workforce to drive a high-performance culture, finding the balance between business growth strategy, a healthy and evolving workforce, and ensuring that employees find purpose in their day-to-day jobs and the meaning their jobs create in their personal lives.

Follow Emily on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emilyzhang1/ 

Timestamps to guide your listening:

  • 01:10 - Unveiling Emily Zhang's key strengths
  • 09:26 - Exploring organizational structures in high-growth startups
  • 12:16 - Embracing change and building influence in startups
  • 16:46 - Navigating career growth and resource challenges in startup environments
  • 20:58 - For someone willing to transition to fintech or startup, what will they need to adapt to?
  • 22: 57 - What to expect in a startup interview process
  • 26:54 - The recruitment process: What should professionals expect?  
  • 33:58 - Emily's advice to professionals keen to transition to startups

Links mentioned in this episode:


Are you new to The Job Hunting Podcast? 

Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach corporate, non-profit, and public professionals the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress. 

If you are 1) an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, 2) looking to find your next job or promotion, or 3) you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running – then this podcast is for you. In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients. 

So there is no excuse – I’m determined to help you! I want you to feel empowered, nail your next job, and have the career you want.

Enjoy the episode, and ciao for now!


Renata Bernarde | Job Hunting Expert

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